On the Catholic Priesthood
Saint Jerome (Priest and Confessor)
When teaching in the church do not excite the applause but rather the lamentations of the people; let the tears of your auditors be your commendation. The sermons of a priest should overflow with Holy Scripture. Be not an orator, but a sincere expounder of the mysteries of your God.
Our Savior in associating with Himself certain men to continue the work of redemption reserved to Himself the direct and immediate action on souls. He works through the priest, who is only His minister and instrument. If the instrument works according to the required conditions, its action is free and produces the desired effect. But if the instrument is corrupt and wicked, its action is impeded and produces no effect.
Source: Jesus Living in the Priest, The General Idea of the Priest by Rev. Fr. Jacques Millet
The Good Priest
If you wish to know how much good a priest can accomplish in the Church, you have only to examine how far he is willing to give up self in order that the spirit of Jesus Christ may enter his heart and abide there.
Source: Jesus Living in the Priest, The General Idea of the Priest by Rev. Fr. Jacques Millet
Study of Jesus Christ
Whosoever knows Jesus Christ possesses all knowledge; whosoever knows Him not is ignorant of all things, even though he may have mastered all that is taught in the academies of the learned.
The Word-made-flesh is the sun of truth and the light that enlighteneth every man that cometh into the world; He is the unutterable secret of His heavenly Father, the mystery of His love that lay hidden during the ages that precede His coming.
Council of Trent: Canon III
"If any one saith that Order, or sacred ordination, is not truly and properly a sacrament instituted by Christ the Lord; or that it is a kind of human figment devised by men unskilled in ecclesiastical matters; or that it is only a kind of rite for choosing ministers of the word of God and of the sacraments; let him be anathema..."
Council of Trent: Canon II
"If any one saith that, besides the priesthood, there are not in the Catholic Church other orders, both greater and minor, by which, as by certain steps, advance is made unto the priesthood; let him be anathema"
Council of Trent
"If any one saith that there is not in the New Testament a visible and external priesthood; or that there is not any power of consecrating and offering the true Body and Blood of the Lord, and of forgiving and retaining sins; but only an office and bare ministry of preaching the Gospel; or that those who do not preach are not priests at all; let him be anathema."
source: Canon I, Council of Trent. Publications of the Catholic Truth Society, Volume 29
St. Augustin admonishes us :"When, either through the neglect of prelates, or by some necessity, or through unknown causes, we find that wicked persons are in the Church, whom we cannot correct or restrain by ecclesiastical discipline, let not the impious and destructive presumption enter our heart that we should imagine ourselves obliged to separate from them."
All scandals and excesses should be put to the charge of human frailty and perversity. The authority of the Church rests on the commission given by Christ, which is unqualified and perpetual."
Source: A Vindication of the Catholic Church in a series of letters addressed to the Rt. Rev. John Henry Hopkins, Protestant Episcopal Bishop of Vermont by Archbishop of Baltimore Francis Patrick Kenrick. 1855
Preachers and Priests
Truly, says St. Teresa, if preachers and priests of God's word make so few conversions, it is because there is still in them too much of the human, too much of worldly wisdom, and too little of the divine fire with which the Apostles were aglow, too little of that heroism which made the saints despise shame and infamy, torture and death, when there was question of giving glory of God and gaining souls for Him.
Oh, what a treasure is a holy priest for a parish, for a city, for a diocese and often for a whole kingdom! What good will he not accomplish? There was a time when twelve men were enough to convert a whole world.
Source: Jesus Living in the Priest: Considerations on the Greatness and Holiness of the Priesthood by Rev. P. Millet S.J. 1901
Priestly Vocation in Christian Families
The blessing of Heaven upon a Christian family is the gift of a priestly vocation to one of its children.
It is the reward of the fidelity to God; it is the sure mark of such fidelity. There are families, where,
short of a special miracle of grace, a vocation never germinates, or if somehow it is there born, it
quickly withers and dies. Those are the families, where the usual atmosphere is repellent, to the
sweetness and comeliness of Christian life, where the example of parents so lowers the spiritual tone
of the child, that it banishes from his mind all supernal thought, from his heart all freshness of grace
and purity. In quest for vocation, we must first discover the Christian home, the Christian father and
mother. Granted to a parish, or to a diocese true Christian families, vocation will not be wanting.
They are the choice flowers of the well-cultivated garden, whose soil is rich, whose nutriment is the
descending dew of the skies. The Christian home is the nursery of vocations; other agencies - presbyteries,
colleges or seminaries - are the mere helpers to growth and development.
Source: Maine Catholic Historical Magazine 1916
"One would need to be a Saint to celebrate worthily. When we are in Heaven, we will appreciate the value
of the Mass and how often we have said it without due reverence, or worship, or recollection."
Source: Saint John Mary Vianney (The Priest in Union with Christ, Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P.)
"If we would only bear in mind, dearly beloved brethren, the exalted character of the things that the Lord God has placed
in our hands, what unbounded influence would not this have in impelling us to lead lives worthy of ecclesiastics!
Has not the Lord placed everything in my hand, when He put there His only-begotten Son, co-eternal and coequal
with Himself? In my hand He has placed all His treasures, His sacraments, His graces; He has placed there souls,
than whom nothing can be dearer to Him; in His love He has preferred them to Himself, and redeemed them by His
Blood; He has placed heaven in my hand, and it is in my power to open and close it to others . . .
How, then, can I be so ungrateful for such condescension and love as to sin against Him, to offend His honor, to pollute
this body which is His? How can I come to defile this high dignity, this life consecrated to His service?"
Source: St. Pope Pius X (To the Catholic Clergy on Priestly Sanctify)
A Priest Forever!
It is significant that Holy Orders is one of the three Sacraments that impress an indelible seal or mark on the soul,
called character. It implies a special consecration to almighty God, and is a reminder that the person thus sealed
or marked should walk worthy of the character he bears, either as a child, a soldier, and, above all, a priest of the true God.
Once a priest, a priest forever, whether he tread in the footsteps of John and Augustine, or of Judas and Arius.
Source: A Pulpit Commentary on Catholic Teaching: The liturgy of the ecclesiastical year
Pray, then, for the young Levite, who says his first Mass today, that the grace of Holy Orders
planted in his soul may bear fruit abundantly, and ever aid him in his high and arduous office.
Pray the Lord of the Vineyard, that He may send laborers into His vineyard, men "powerful in
work and word"; men with wills of steel, and hearts of gold, men of light and leading, trained like
St. Paul, in the best of all schools, that of "Christ and Him crucified."
Pray for him and all, remembering that they carry the great grace and responsibilities of Holy Orders,
"in vessels of clay. " And whilst availing yourselves of their ministrations in the great work of saving
your souls, do not fail to thank God, "who hath given such power to men."
Source: Holy Orders by the Rev. William Graham
Priests are, in St. Paul's words "the dispensers of the mysteries of God." They thus guard and administer the channels of grace. We may say, therefore, with truth, that Holy Orders is the fountain of spiritual life in the Church. It is the source of all the streams of grace that water the garden of God. Without Holy Orders the world, spiritually, would be a wilderness. It would like under perpetual interdict.
The city of God, alive today with the hum of prayer, and praise, and sacrifice, would be, without Holy Orders, like a city of the dead, as silent and lifeless as the grave. So pressing is the need of a priesthood, that where the churches are closed or desecrated, and the true priests slain or driven away, they get soon re-opened; and if the altar and true sacrifice are not restored, they are replaced by a table or reading desk, and a sham clergy put in to take the place of real sacrificing priests. If men cease to worship the true God by the one true sacrifice, through the one true priesthood, they take to themselves false ones. Divine worship of some sort is a social need.
Hence, the devil's best weapon in his war with Christ is the removal or corruption of the clergy, the drying up, in fact, or poisoning, the wells of Holy Orders. All the great persecutors, from Nero downwards, have mainly aimed their death-blows at the heads of the clergy. "Scatter the shepherds, and the flocks will be dispersed." is their motto.